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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Frequently Asked Questions about PDF Files

Articles submitted as Microsoft Word or RTF files will be automatically converted to PDF files by the eScholarship system. If you are using a different word processor, or if you choose to create your own PDF, this page will provide you with useful tips to help you successfully create your PDF file.

If you already know how to create PDF files, please be sure to embed all fonts in the document.

Is there a way someone else can do this for me?

If you submit your article as Microsoft Word or RTF file, the eScholarship system will automatically create a PDF file for you. If you use a different word processor and you can't produce PDF files on your computer (due to a lack of software or other reasons), please contact us. Be sure to indicate which word processor you are using, and if there are graphics or special fonts included in your document.

Adobe also offers an online service for PDF file creation. Visit for more information.

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What Software Do I Need to Create PDF Files?

The software used to read PDF files (Acrobat Reader), can be downloaded for free from Adobe.

The recommended software used to produce PDF files costs. The best product for creating PDF files is Adobe Acrobat, which includes Acrobat Distiller for writing PDF files. You can purchase Acrobat at most software retailers or at Adobe's web site. Most college bookstores offer educational discounts to associated faculty and students. Adobe also offers site licenses and other discounts to educational institutions.

Though we recommend Acrobat Distiller be used to produce the best quality PDF files, there are also free programs available that can do the job:

  • Ghostscript - compiles TeX and LaTeX files directly into PDF.
  • PDFTeX - compiles TeX and LaTeX files directly into PDF.
  • text2pdf - converts straight text (i.e., ASCII) into PDF.
  • PStill - a compilation of freeware and shareware programs to convert PostScript files to PDF.
  • dvipdfm - converts DVI files (TeX or LaTeX) output into PDF.

Once you choose a software package that meets your needs, you should install it following the instructions provided with the software. With the PDF-writing software installed, you are ready to produce your own PDF files. Be sure to follow the guidelines outlined below for writing papers and creating PDF files.

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Do I have to do anything differently when writing my article?

You simply write your document as you normally would in your word processor, keeping a few tips in mind to improve the quality of the PDF document:

  • FONTS: We recommend using standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial. If using unusual fonts, be sure to use embeddable Type 1 or TrueType fonts.
  • GRAPHICS: It's best to use EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files rather than bitmaps, GIFs, or JPEG images. Use a high resolution such as 600-dpi. Avoid using graphic editors that are part of a word processor.
  • EQUATIONS: Microsoft Word users should NOT use Word's Equation Editor. Instead, use italic Times Roman font and Symbol font, along with superscripts and subscripts to create equations.

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What settings should I choose when creating the PDF file?

Though each version of the PDF creation software will differ slightly in how you create the file, you should always choose the following options:

  • Embed all fonts (VERY IMPORTANT!) (see how to embed fonts for details)
  • Print optimized
  • 600 dpi resolution (minimum)

Other important tips for creating the best PDF files:

  • If you are using Adobe products, use Acrobat Distiller to create the highest quality PDF files. Do not use Adobe Acrobat Writer to create the files. (Distiller comes with the full version of Adobe Acrobat.)
  • Create the PDF file on the same machine where the original document was created to ensure that the fonts necessary for viewing and printing the resulting PDF file are available during PDF creation. If you create the file on a different computer, please peruse the final PDF file to verify that the correct fonts were used throughout the document.

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You say I must 'embed all fonts'. What does that mean? How do I do it?

This simply means that all of the font information used to make your document look the way it does is stored in the PDF file. So no matter what fonts someone else has on their computer, they'll be able to see the file as you intended it to be seen. If you don't embed fonts, Acrobat will make its best guess at font substitution using whatever fonts are available on the reader's computer. Substitution can result in significant differences between your intended output and what the reader observes (particularly with symbol fonts), so it is best to have the fonts embedded.

To embed fonts when using Acrobat Distiller:

  1. Start Acrobat Distiller.
  2. Go to the Settings menu and select Job Options.
  3. Select the Fonts tab and select Embed All Fonts.
  4. Click OK.

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Creating PDF Files from Word Documents

Creating a PDF file from a word processing document is fairly straightforward. Once you have installed the software necessary to write PDF files, you can essentially print to a PDF file instead of printing to paper. Refer to the instructions that came with the PDF creation software.

If you are using Acrobat Distiller and Microsoft Word, the best way to go about creating the PDF file is:

  1. From the File menu choose Print.
  2. Select Distiller (or "Create Adobe PDF") as the printer by choosing it from the "Name" (or "Printer") drop down list at the top of the Print dialog.
  3. Choose "Print Optimized" as the job option.
  4. Click "OK" (or "Save") to create the PDF file. You will be prompted to name the file and choose where it is saved. Do so, and click Save. (If you're not prompted to choose the name and location, make note of where the file is being saved as indicated in the Print dialog.)

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What if my article is made up of multiple files?

If your submission consists of multiple documents (such as a word processing file, graphics, spreadsheets, etc.), it is best to consolidate them first in one document and then print that file as a PDF document. If you aren't able to consolidate the files before creating the PDF file, it is possible to combine PDF files using the commands in Adobe Acrobat.

  1. Open the main PDF file in Acrobat.
  2. Go to the page where you want to insert the additional page or pages.
  3. Choose 'Insert Pages' from the Document menu.
  4. Select and open the PDF file that contains the pages to be inserted.
  5. Verify the settings in the dialog to be sure that you're inserting the pages in the correct location, and click OK.

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How can I check my PDF file to make sure I did it right?

Please do your best to follow these guidelines when creating PDF files to be submitted to eScholarship and check your results.

To check your file:

  1. Open the file open in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Choose File>Document Info>Fonts.
  3. In the window that opens, choose List All Fonts and you should see a table of fonts.
  4. Verify that all entries in the Type column are either Type 1 or TrueType fonts.
  5. In the Used Font column, you should see "Embedded Subset" for all fonts with the possible exception of Times, Arial/Helvetica, and Courier).
  6. Select OK to close the font window.
  7. From the View menu, choose Use Local Fonts to turn this option off (the check mark should disappear).
  8. Page through your PDF file to visually inspect each page as it would appear on another computer without the same fonts as yours.
  9. Print a copy of your file and verify that everything prints as expected.

If you encounter problems while checking your file, please consult the following resource:

Please let us know if you need assistance. You may send mail to

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What if I run into problems printing a PDF file?

If you are having trouble printing a PDF file from the site, first be sure that you have the appropriate software (Acrobat or Acrobat Reader). Acrobat Reader is available for free from Adobe. You may download it at:

If you can view the article correctly on screen but it fails to print correctly, you should do the following:

  1. With the PDF file open in Acrobat or Acrobat Reader, choose Print from the File menu.
  2. Windows Users: Check the "Print as Image" option in the Print dialog. Macintosh Users: Change the setting for the popup menu at the top of the dialog from General to Acrobat, and select Print as Image as the print method.
  3. Click Print.

If you don't see the option to "Print as Image" be sure that you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free from Adobe).

Other information about troubleshooting printing problems for PDF files can be found through the following links at Adobe's site:

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